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Jeff Johnson: The Art of Falling

Jeff Johnson is a skilled, big-toned musical bassist who has worked with Chet Baker, Julian Priester, Billy Hart, Bud Shank and Charlie Rouse. On The Art of Falling he’s in a quartet setting with saxman Hans Teuber, drummer Billy Mintz and pianist Randy Porter.

This is a very open, airy date. Johnson concentrates on playing counter lines rather than stating the beat and Mintz functions more as a colorist than timekeeper. Teuber impresses with his alto efforts. He’s melodic, inventive and has a pure, sweet tone, reminiscent of the work of early Lee Konitz, Paul Desmond and Billy Drewes. Porter, a lyrical, economical player has a style that’s rooted in the Bill Evans approach, but he’s worked out an individual variant on it.

As impressive as these musicians are individually the whole is even greater than the sum of the parts due to their wonderful interplay. Everyone gets a chance to say what he wants to say and no one steps on a bandmate’s toes. The collective improvising here is about as good as it gets.

Originally Published